Freelancers: How'd you pick your company name?

Nov 03, 2014

Hey folks!

Talked to a few folks last week @DevLearn who were interested in starting their own consulting company. One question that came up a couple times was around choosing a company name.

Do you go with your personal name or a business name? Do you have a preference? How'd you come up with your name?


129 Replies
Rebecca Fleisch Cordeiro

I'll start ;)

Full name: Rebecca Fleisch Cordeiro

DBA: refco - unfortunately, as time evolved I had to be a bit more flexible; needing to append with 27 at times (refco27), e.g., in email addresses, since refco was already taken.

And, on my youtube site:

...actually had to make it 3 alpha characters: ref and 3 numeric characters 027 (Rant: Even though no one was actively using refco27 - YouTube apparently doesn't put anything that's been used back into circulation)

Hah! Bet you got more than you were looking for, Pete ... and David ;)

Melissa Milloway

I'm excited to see the responses. I have had a blog for a few years (and just revamped it) but I never thought I would be freelancing (which I do occasionally!)  

I kept my blog name since it is only me but I think I would change my name/brand a bit if I started a company with others.  Here's mine: Hopefully that is okay to post.

Tim Slade

Great question. I decided to keep my "company" name simple and just go with my first/last name. Part of my strategy has always been name/face recognition - so this seems to work for me. Even if you don't go with your name, I would still suggest trying to snag your first/last name url (ex. - you never know when you might need it!

Melissa Milloway

I agree with you Tim. I think it also reinforces your personal brand. It's easier for me to remember someone's name rather than their company (unless it is a really strong/unique name). I can't stand names that are super generic or a ton of acronyms (outside of initials which I think can work in some cases, like Rebecca's). Going with your name totally makes sense if you are a one man band.

Adele Sommers

When I incorporated my business several years ago, I decided to select a new name. After much deliberation involving many word combinations, I ended up choosing the shortest, most direct phrase that focuses on end results: "Business Performance Inc." That allows us to direct our energies  equally in the areas of instructional design and business consulting, which often involve the same clients.

Tim Slade

Great point Adele! If you dedicate to go with a business name, make sure it communicates what it is that you do!

For example, Artisan E-Learning (the company I work for) used to be named "Alcorn-Ward & Partners." This ended up being a problem when potential clients would call us thinking that we we're injury legal lawyers. 

Needless to say, "Artisan E-Learning" is much clearer. 

Bruce Graham

Perfect Performance Training (

1. It is all about training - so I pick up gigs for ILT, for role-play etc. Those I cannot do I sub out - and take a margin.

2. Perfect. NLP suggestion that I am, and that they will get perfect results.

3. Performance. Business performance (which is what it's all about...), tied together with my sometimes slightly ... flamboyant behaviour.

4. The associated acronym - (.)ppt, just made me giggle :)

5. It seems to pick up well on various searches and metadata.

I also use "The PowToon Guru" and "The Videoscribe Guru" as subsets of my main business - utilising the new .guru urls as and . I also tie these back as subsidiaries of my (main) eLearning business. I own but have not built it out yet.

Nancy Woinoski

When I formed my company I had a business partner so going with the personal brand didn't work.  Here is what's on my website - it is pretty close to the truth.

We could have chosen a business-like name, one with the word "Learn" in it or something with a big "E" in the title, but that wouldn't reflect who we are. The word Pinched Head, (pronounced \ˈpinched\ \ˈhed\) is a noun that derives its origin from Greek and signifies "someone who displays great creativity in communicating complex ideas to the masses." It was often said of Plato and Aristotle that they were the greatest "Pinched Heads" of their era. ...okay, okay... we're kidding.

The name really came about when we were first getting involved with digital design. We were tasked with putting together an online photo directory for our organization and someone in our team had PhotoShop. The result? — a directory of photos that looked like something seen in one of those concave fun-house mirrors. Our heads were pinched so that the brain part was really huge and our faces really squished. Why do I tell you this? Because at Pinched Head we believe that learning has to include a sense of exploration and discovery. It starts with a need to do something and provides a creative place to gain experience within the context of the learning.


Jerson  Campos

When I first started my business I only intended it to sell graphic, designs, and characters specifically for eLearning. Since I was planning to sell these items online, I made sure that the url was not taken up already. After going through several versions of elearning + art/graphics type names and seeing that they where all taken up I gave up for a while. Then I started thinking about the items I was planning on selling. I was selling visual aids to other developers creating eLearning. So I decided on Visual-e-learning.  It's a play on both words. It sounds like "Visually Learning"  or " Visual eLearning" when you say it.

Now that I'm taking on more training development work, I'm planning on creating another business with a different name. Something a little easier to remember and different branding.

Jackie Van Nice

I went with my own name when it became obvious that, after years of using DBAs, there was no point in doing anything else. Clients and potential clients who want to do business with me are excited to do so explicitly because it's me. Making them try to remember whatever my DBA was when they wanted to find me just became a barrier.

By the way - and I think this is a big tip for those who truly want to become involved with this community - I feel the same way about community members who present themselves as business entities rather than as an individuals in their ELH profiles.

If it's a business profile (business name and logo), who am I talking to? Is it one person? A rotating variety of people? I'm not going to invest time and energy to engage a company in the forums or in the challenges, but I will do nothing but invest my time and energy to engage, support, and encourage an individual I can connect with in the forums and the challenges.

There are endless examples of people who have their own companies here in the community - including those who have already responded to this thread. I'd never have gotten to know Bruce, Nancy, Tim, Becky, Melissa, Jerson, or Adele if they'd not revealed who they were as individuals and only provided a business name and logo as a means of identifying themselves. 

You don't do business with or interact with logos or business names. You do it with individuals.

Julie Stelter

My last name has a lot of consonants and thus is difficult to pronounce. So I picked a name that is meaningful to me. I am big fan of Henry David Thoreau so I picked Walden Group. I thought DevLearn was amazing!
Cheers, Julie

Julie Stelter, President

Walden Group
Designing educational experiences worth learning about

Sam Lincoln

I learned with an original company that flexibility is key if you are likely to work in unrelated areas. My current company name is Sam Lincoln Enterprises Limited but I trade under specific product/topic titles. This is only really possible if you are a single person/small enterprise.  I use those product titles as my web URLs (or is it the URLs which become my product titles?). Which leads me to anothern consideration .... try and choose a company name which can be shortened as a domain name. I wish I had ownership of as opposed to it would make life so much easier for my clients (and save ink!).

Sam Lincoln

I agree with you in principle Jackie ... relationships are built with individuals. However - and I don't want to diverge onto a privacy debate here - there are some individuals who may have legitimate reasons for an element of anonymity/discretion and may not wish to use their real name. In this case I suggest using a pseudonym .... consistently.

David Anderson

Not at all, Becky! It's a good example of how one can find variations of their name. You think there's any way I'll ever get ? Not in my lifetime. 

I know I scored a good twitter name early (@elearning) but it isn't tied to my name. Really wish I'd also grabbed a personal version for branding reasons mentioned in this discussion. 

Question: how have you tied your social media names to your company name? 

Rebecca Fleisch Cordeiro
David Anderson

Not at all, Becky! It's a good example of how one can find variations of their name. You think there's any way I'll ever get ? Not in my lifetime. 

I know I scored a good twitter name early (@elearning) but it isn't tied to my name. Really wish I'd also grabbed a personal version for branding reasons mentioned in this discussion. 

Question: how have you tied your social media names to your company name? 


So, the "refco" goes back many years, before social media. Just came to me one day. When I began investigating Twitter, a colleague who'd been working w/Twitter for a bit wisely suggested a short handle and I said, "Serendipity! refco is short." And it's my Linked In "handle," my Skype "handle," and my domain name.

The thought is because it's in my email signature and in all these other "places" that also have my photo attached, it connects with me.

Sam Lincoln

Matthew, that's a good point which demands my clarification - it probably isn't legal to use a pseudonym for contracts etc. I was thinking more along the lines of how could someone who doesn't want to use their name as the 'brand'/company name in a public space such as a forum. So if they have a company name at least make sure that they present themselves as a person by, if necessary, using a pseudonym; which addresses Jackie's point. Many authors and artists are known by their pseudonym and are viewed as an individual rather than a company.

Ashley Chiasson

Like Tim, I went along with my personal brand. This was also easiest for the purposes of my business. I do foresee that if things ramp up again (it's slowed down a bit, maintaining no more than 2 contracts at a time, due to my FT commitments), having to make a name change - in which case I'll likely refer back to this thread :P

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